As part of its commitment to delivering energy safely and reliably, Consumers Energy is increasing its work to keep trees away from electric lines in communities across Michigan.

"Our work to keep electric lines clear is a vital part of our Promise to deliver the energy you need, whenever you need it. Fallen limbs or trees can cut power to hundreds or thousands of people at a time, and that's why you see crews at work throughout the year in all conditions," said Mary Palkovich, Consumers Energy's vice president of energy delivery.

About 700 workers are currently in the field trimming or removing trees that come in contact with electric lines. They plan to work along 6,375 miles of lines, enough to travel from the Indiana or Ohio state line to the Mackinac Bridge more than 20 times.

Consumers Energy is dedicating more resources to forestry this year than in 2013. Officials have planned ongoing work based on which of its 2,000 electric circuits are most affected by tree-related outages. Work is scheduled depending on what can have the most impact.

"Our focus is reliability. We constantly strive to reduce the number of outages for the 1.8 million homes and businesses to which we provide electricity," Palkovich said. "If we can keep trees from coming into contact with wires, we give our customers the best chance to keep their lights on during the worst of Michigan's weather."

Consumers Energy communicates local tree-trimming plans to residents well in advance of the actual work. Planners walk circuits where work is scheduled, talking to residents in person or leaving contact information, and marking trees that will be trimmed. Letters also are mailed in advance to all homeowners and businesses along circuits where work will take place.

Consumers Energy works to replace trees, providing more than $50,000 in grants last year to help plant more than 390 trees in more than 40 communities. This year, the company is doubling that amount this year to $100,000, with maximum grants to communities of $2,000.

Right tree, right place

Homeowners have an important role in keeping trees from causing power outages. Consumers Energy supports the Arbor Day Foundation's "The Right Tree in the Right Place" campaign, which aims to build awareness of planting the proper trees depending on the situation.

No trees should ever be planted under high-voltage transmission lines, which transmit electricity across the state. Only particular trees should be planted under distribution lines – the power lines that serve communities and households.